Film Review | Agatha Christie’s Crooked House (2017)

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What’s notable about Crooked House amongst Christie’s oeuvre, however, is that the story has never been adapted for the screen – until now. This means that all the hallmarks and idiosyncrasies that define Christie’s work, the ones that we’ve become so familiar with, here feel slightly different. The stately home, the eccentric family, the mystery and intrigue – it all feels slightly subverted here, in fresh and unexpected ways. Indeed, the way the case unfolds is difficult to anticipate, keeping the audience in suspense to the last possible moment.

Here is a film review. A film review written by me, no less! Admittedly that’s probably exactly what you’ve come to expect on this here website of mine, but hey, sometimes it’s good to be specific.

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Director Mark Gill on his Morrissey biopic England is Mine, his creative influences, and more

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We all present an idealised version of ourselves. It came from the fact that, I think I once heard Morrissey say, that he never performs on stage, he just is himself, and it’s the only time he can ever be himself. So, I wondered, does he mean that we never see Steven? I just feel that everybody presents a version of themselves, and I think with him it is just highlighted, because of his personality and then his status. 

I think, with anybody, anybody has that front. You see some of the most arrogant people you would probably meet in your life and probably underneath they are probably the most insecure. You often wonder, how do we all survive? We all try things out in our teens and I think he just found something that he was comfortable with and I think, his mum may have had something to do with that. She’s a very strong, perceptive woman.

I spoke with Mark Gill recently, about his new film England is Mine. I really enjoyed talking to this charming man.

Heaven knows, though, he… no, I don’t actually know enough Smiths songs to carry that on. Anyway, yeah, this was a neat interview. Probably the most notable question, mind you, is where I ask Mark why he thinks Morrissey is considered such a quintessential British figure – or, at least, quintessential to the point that’s how he’s described on his Wikipedia page – and Mark seems to think I’m asking why Morrissey is such a screaming racist these days. Mild awkwardness ensues.

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An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth To Power directors Bonni Cohen & Jon Shenk on the energy revolution, documentary making and more

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Al Gore and Participant Media, who made the first film, had been talking about a follow-up in the years after An Inconvenient Truth. And, I think, a number of things happened. One was that the story really has changed significantly in the last years, partly because of the cost down-curve of solar, wind, and other sustainable sources of energy has really become equal – if not lower – in many parts of the world to generate electricity that way. 

And so, that was a significant update to the story. When An Inconvenient Truth came out it was sort of a hopeful thing that solar and wind might someday help us solve the problem. But really, in 2015, when we started filming, that reality was really true and potentially… It had amazing potential for this revolution, this sustainability revolution.

My interview with Bonni Cohen and Jon Shenk (pictured above, mainly because I don’t have a good picture of them both together)! They directed An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth 2 Power. I am quite interested in what the possible third one might end up being called. Something about three energy?

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Doug Liman on his latest movie The Wall, growing as a filmmaker, and more

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It was a chance to grow as a filmmaker. I make… most of my movies are completely different than anything I’ve ever done before. In this case, this was going to be one of the biggest challenges of my career, because I do have a short attention span and one of the ways in which I have consistently dealt with it is by having a lot of spectacle, and a lot of characters, and a lot of locations, and a lot of different moving parts. You never get settled into any one thing for too long. This was going to push me to grow as a filmmaker, and then to maybe not use some of the ‘copouts’ I’ve used previously in my career.

My interview with Doug Liman, about his filmmaking career. We also spoke about the upcoming Chaos Walking movie that he’s working on.

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Greg McLean on his new film Jungle, working with Daniel Radcliffe and more

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The true story really does lend itself to a movie; we didn’t have to do a lot to make it into an action adventure thriller. It already had those elements in it. When the story really happened to Yossii, he spoke about how he went down and wrote the story, he wrote the book, and it was almost like a confession. I think he was trying to keep together what really happened there with his friendship group.

The book has this very immediate character arc, which translated really well to a screenplay. So, when I came onto the project, we already had a script but what I try to do was bring it back to the book, to be as accurate to the true story. The book is very simple, very thought out – a very compelling and emotional read. That was why I wanted to tell it as true as possible.

Here’s my recent interview with Greg McLean about his film Jungle.

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Christopher Willis on The Death of Stalin, the Soviet composers who inspired the film’s score, and more

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The starting point was thinking about Soviet music from the 1950s, of which there was a lot, you know, there was a whole stable of Soviet concert composers who also wrote for movies in that period. Shostakovich being the most famous, and also Prokofiev who was slightly complicated one, because he came and went, and Weinburg. In fact, there’s a large number of others who are not so famous.

And we were thinking for a long time about the tone of it. There needed to be something that would give you the nervousness of the film and genuine danger, but also not tap into a straightforward drama. And going forward, funnily enough, most period dramas are known to tend to limit the sound of the music on the set, so there was something very interesting in getting closer to that sound.

This was a great interview, and I’m really pleased with how it turned out – Christopher was great to talk to, and said some fascinating things about The Death of Stalin.

I’m particularly fond of this one, actually, just because of how nice a guy Christopher was. I’ve found – purely anecdotally – that composers tend to be the nicest of all the people I’ve interviewed. Not sure why; might just be that I’ve largely interviewed some terribly nice people who happen to be composers. But it just sort of sticks in my mind, I suppose.

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Composer Nathan Barr on his score for Flatliners, his musical voice, and more

I realise, for me, sort of sitting down to the same 88 keys at my electronic keyboard and composing wasn’t going to be inspiring enough, no matter what sound I was pulling up on the sampler or synthesiser. So, for me, very much a part of the composing process is setting myself up to be able to make mistakes.

So if I buy an instrument and I don’t really know how to play it, I will find myself approaching a melody mechanically, in the way I put down my fingers, that may yield something very different as I’m not familiar with the instrument. I find that a lot of us get boxed into motor mechanics – of how we play the piano, or the guitar – and an unfamiliar instrument really breaks those motor impulses that we have, that always bring me back to the same place over and over again.

Here’s my interview with Nathan Barr, composer of Flatliners. Nathan has a massive collection of all sorts of different instruments, and a pretty interesting approach approach to music. One of the things I always appreciate about doing these interviews is listening to creative people talk about their process, and noting the differences between them. It’s quite engaging hearing them speak about their art, and hopefully you’ll enjoy reading about it too.

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Caroline Dhavernas on Easy Living, indie films, and more

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It’s funny, because we often talk about ‘Will the character be likable?’ – I don’t think it’s important for a character to be likable. I think people want the drive, actually, to see someone who’s behaving in a way that they cannot allow themselves to behave, as an audience. I think that’s where we throw all of our – it’s like a bit of a fantasy sometimes, to see a character be rude, be bold, to not have to be polite, it’s so fun, I think we kind of fantasise about being allowed to be that way, sometimes.

My interview with Caroline Dhavernas! I don’t think I got this one quite right; there’s a moment early on where she asked me a counter question, which threw me a little because I wasn’t expecting it, and I think because she wasn’t super impressed with my answer she switched off a little bit. Although I might have imagined that, to be honest.

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Film Review | Easy Living (2017)

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It’s the story of Sherry, a door-to-door makeup saleswoman, and the lack of control she has over her life. Sherry is a self-destructive character, one spiraling from extreme to extreme; it’s made immediately clear that she occupies a liminal space within her own life, at a remove from those around her. Caroline Dhavernas gives a note-perfect performance throughout; she embodies the messy, fractured character, managing to strike the exact balance between off-putting and engaging. A lot about the character is left implicit, and this is carried through Dhavernas’ work; it’s perhaps inaccurate to say Sherry has any real interiority, but that’s likely an inevitable consequence of this non-traditional character study.

My review of Easy Living for Flickering Myth. It’s an interesting film; one that’s difficult to like, but easy to appreciate.

I haven’t gone back and re-read this review, but I suspect there’s more than a little element of “I got to see this film for free, and I’m interviewing the lead actress in an hour so there’s a solid chance that the writers and directors and so on will see this review, so I should probably be polite and look for the positives” going on – certainly that’s how I remember feeling while writing it. It does end with a rape scene, which I suspect I didn’t critique enough, which I do regret. So, bear that in mind if you’re going to go and watch it.

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Richard Armitage on Pilgrimage, how he connects with his characters, and more

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You know, I never saw him as a villain to be honest. I saw him as a kind of carrier of war; from a modern perspective, warmongering people are considered villainous, but I think in the brutality of the period we’re talking about, he would have been hailed as a hero or a champion, because he’s pursuing his agenda. But yeah, it was an incredibly kind of metallic taste in the mouth to work at that level.

I recently did an interview with Richard Armitage, all about his new film Pilgrimage, as well as a lot of interesting stuff about his acting method. This is another very good interview, I think, I’m extremely pleased with it.

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